Book Review: *The Game On! Diet* by Krista Vernoff and Az Ferguson


  • The Game On! Diet by Krista Vernoff and Az Ferguson
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; 1 edition (June 30, 2009)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061718892

Back of the book blurbThe Game On! Diet is not a diet. It’s a bold new approach to fitness that turns the latest, smartest, most successful health science into a fun, fierce, and exhilarating game.  Developed by Az Ferguson, to help Grey’s Anatomy writer Krista Vernoff shed forty pounds of post-pregnancy weight, it is the ideal program for busy people who should be working out but have a thousand good excuses not to.

Az keeps you motivated and Krista keeps you laughing as they show you how to organize opposing teams, set goals, and compete to earn points for daily exercise, healthy meal plans, and positive lifestyle changes.  With The Game On! Diet, the process of losing weight, for the first time ever, is actually fun.

She is Too Fond of Books’ review: This book had me hooked in the introduction, Az Ferguson (co-author with Krista Vernoff, and a Body-for-Life champion) sums up the philosophy of the plan with this metaphor:

Optimum health is actually our natural state of being; our bodies naturally gravitate to what they need.  Think of a baby in her first year of life.  She eats on a regular basis, lots of small meals.  She gets most of her meals from fluids, which keep her fully hydrated.  She sleeps for large portions of the day to aid her growth and recovery.  And when she wakes up, she’s raring to go!

I want to be “raring to go”, so I continued reading to find out exactly what is involved in getting my Game On!  It’s a healthy competition, which is truly a health competition.  Players earn daily points for:

  • eating 5 small meals
  • exercising 20 minutes
  • sleeping 7 hours
  • drinking 3 liters of water
  • maintaining a new healthy habit
  • dropping a not-so-healthy habit
  • communicating daily with both team-mates and opposition

Points maybe deducted for a variety of reasons, including snacking outside sanctioned meals/snacks and colluding (“let’s both cheat and call it even”).

Scores are tallied, averaged per team, and at the end of four weeks … the team with the highest score wins!  That’s right, not the team with the greatest weight loss, but the team with the most points!  What really appeals to me about Game On! are both the team aspect (support, celebrating victories, troubleshooting), but also that the plan takes into account the whole person – the physical and mental well-being of the players.

The book is co-written by Az Ferguson and Krista Vernoff.  As I mentioned above, Az is a Body-for-Life champion; he knows health and fitness.  Krista is a writer and executive producer for Grey’s Anatomy (and, no, you don’t lose points if you’re not a regular viewer of the show!)  Krista’s tone is funny, blunt, a bit flippant, and very encouraging … she’s like the friend who dares to tell you that, no, that dress doesn’t look good on you, but then she stays by your side as you keep trying on clothes and finally find the perfect outfit.

Here’s how she addresses one of the questions in the Exercise Q&A (note that players earn bonus points for losing 1.0% of their weight in a week; that’s 1.5 pounds for a person weighing 150 at the beginning of The Game).  It’s a cut and dried answer, but not cutting:

Q.  Can I get some of my points if I lost .99 percent of my weight?

A.  No.  Sorry.  We gotta keep the rule clean and clear.  But if you lost .99 percent of your weight, you rock and you know it.  That’s your reward.

The Game On! Diet covers all aspects of the various point-earning categories.  The chapter on Food includes a shopping list, sample recipes, and explanations of why certain foods are penalty-invoking.  Exercise gives ideas on how to add 20 minutes of exercise to your day, and outlines a nicely illustrated example of a High Intensity Interval Training routine.  Sleep explains the rationale behind the 7-hour rule, defines “sleep debt”, and discusses sleep strategies.  Transformation talks about selecting the habit you will drop during The Game, Healthy Habits encourages you to maintain a new positive action for 28 days; it may become a routine part of your lifestyle.

Each of the 18 chapters delivers information about a serious subject with Krista’s frank wit, Az’s viewpoint as a trainer, and opinions of various outside experts (yogis, dietitians, physicians, etc.).

The plan is solid, fun, and do-able!  My only quibble with the book is the title; I’m not crazy about the word diet.  We have a 13-year-old daughter, and I’m very aware of the messages we send to our girls (and boys!) about body image.  I’m participating in the Game On! Lifestyle Challenge, which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but the phrase works better for my family (hmm, maybe there’ll be an online addendum to address the vocabulary hang-ups of people like me!  I’m sure Krista would address my concerns and have me laughing!)

Yes, I’m participating in The Game!  We have three groups of bloggers who will begin the 4-week program on June 29, 2009.  We are,

  • The HoHos:
  • Kathy from The Brain Lair
  • two of Kathy’s IRL friends who will be updating their progress on Facebook

gameontileYou can follow our progress by searching Twitter for the #gameondiet hashtag.  We’ve been burning up the tweet-waves as we get ready to start the competition.  Already we’re encouraging each other, and learning that opinions vary as to which aspect of the Game will be most challenging.

My habits?  I have to admit that I spend far too much time online, responding like Pavlov’s dogs when I hear the ding of new email; I’m staying off the computer between 6 and 8 each night — I’ll have to turn off my laptop to do it, but I’ll do it!  My new healthy habit is keeping paper clutter down (which will result in lowered stress levels); I will sort/file/recycle every piece of mail and the newspapers daily.

There will be prizes for the team that wins the Game, I’ll announce those on the blog next week.

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